Iraqis say they're not better off with Saddam gone

Posted on: Mon, 12/19/2005 - 09:24 By: Tom Swiss
An ABC news poll finds that a majority of Iraqis, fifty-two percent, say things in their country are going badly. Only a forty-six percent minority think the country is better off now than it was before the war, and half of Iraqis say the U.S. invasion was wrong.

How do things look for democracy? Overall 57 percent of Iraqis prefer democracy to either strongman rule or an Islamic state. That's a pretty slim majority for such an important idea. It's bad enough that 43% of the people don't prefer rule by the people, but it's even worse that the pro-democracy side makes a majority only because of strong favorable number in Kurdish and in mixed Shiite/Sunni areas. In Shiite areas and Sunni areas, only a minority (45 and 38 percent respectively) prefer democracy.

Bush admists to killing tens of thousands - 100 9/11s.

Posted on: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 13:40 By: Tom Swiss
Reuters reports that George W. Bush admitted today that his Iraq policy has killed 30,000 Iraqis. Other estimates that take all war-related "excess deaths" into account (those from disease, malnutrition, and so on) put the civilian death toll as high as 100,000.

Remember that the 9/11 murders killed fewer than 3,000 Americans. And remember that Iraq has a population of only about 1/10 that of the U.S. In proportion, then, Bush's illegal, immoral, and stupid invasion has inflicted between 100 and 300 9/11s worth of deaths on Iraq (and about 2/3rd of a 9/11 on American troops).

Our changing world

Posted on: Mon, 12/12/2005 - 10:00 By: Tom Swiss

The Earth's North magnetic pole is moving south at an accelerated rate, meaning that Alaska could lose the "Northern Lights" inside of fifty years.

And a 37-mile long fissure that split open in September in the Afar desert in Ethiopia could be the "birth of a new ocean basin," though that will take millions rather than tens of years.

These are reminders that our planet is on the move, that what we think of as "solid ground" is just an illusion of short timescales.

Human health linked to the health of the planet. Duh.

Posted on: Sat, 12/10/2005 - 16:35 By: Tom Swiss

Reuters reports on a World Health Organization report tying human health to the health of the ecosystem:

"Human health is strongly linked to the health of ecosystems, which meet many of our most critical needs," Maria Neira, director of WHO's Department of Protection of the Human Environment told a news conference at the launch of a new report.

As the kids say: uh, duh? Like you hadn't figured this out a long time ago?

Amusing password masking social hack

Posted on: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 17:24 By: Tom Swiss is a website that collects amusing snippets from IRC discussions. I found this little bit of social engineering quite amusing:

<Cthon98> hey, if you type in your pw, it will show as stars
<Cthon98> ********* see!
<AzureDiamond> hunter2
<AzureDiamond> doesnt look like stars to me
<Cthon98> <AzureDiamond> *******
<Cthon98> thats what I see
<AzureDiamond> oh, really?
<Cthon98> Absolutely
<AzureDiamond> you can go hunter2 my hunter2-ing hunter2
<AzureDiamond> haha, does that look funny to you?

More from the "war on sharing"

Posted on: Fri, 12/09/2005 - 10:36 By: Tom Swiss

Slashdot refers us to this BBC story about the Music Publishers' Association trying to shut down web sites with music lyrics and scores, including wanting to lock people in cages for sharing the words to songs.

Somehow, it all seems...familiar. Back in 1998, I was interviewed for a piece in the Baltimore Sun about an attack on OLGA, the on-line guitar archive, where musicians share their interpretations of songs, by the Harry Fox Agency.

Excuse me while I repeat myself: Music is not a crime. Music is all about sharing. Performers share with the audience and performers share with each other. That's the folk tradition. We now have a new technology of information that renders the old laws obsolete. We need laws that recognize that the sharing of information is what makes us human.

Carl Ellison's padlock

Posted on: Wed, 12/07/2005 - 21:26 By: Tom Swiss

My first job out of graduate school was working at Trusted Information Systems, where I met some of the top people in the information security field. I briefly shared an office with cryptography guru Carl Ellison; I came across a great little story on his web site today:

I had this great bicycle, once. I kept it in the walkway under my rowhouse in the Federal Hill neighborhood of Baltimore, locked behind a solid wooden gate. To protect it, I went out and bought a hefty padlock. The lock cost a fair amount, but my peace of mind was worth it...

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